Bad Bunny on What Makes a Hit Now

Bad Bunny

Bad Bunny

Billboard's year-end issue is all about one question: What makes a hit now? So we asked some of the biggest names in music — like Bad Bunny — for their thoughts. The prolific superstar released three full-length projects in 2020, including YHLQMDLG and El Último Tour del Mundo, which this month became the first all-Spanish-language album to top the Billboard 200. He also recently topped the Billboard Global 200 chart with “Dákiti,” his hypnotic team-up with Jhay Cortez.

Rhythm makes a hit. I’m very demanding with beats. I listen to the track, and the first four, five seconds have to bring me in: “What is this? I like it.” What comes later is backing it up with the melody and lyrics. At the end of the day, these bangers all talk about the same thing. So you have to choose your words so it sounds fresh and add a couple of elements that make it stand out. “Dákiti” is such a strange song because you can’t even tell when the verse kicks off. It feels like it has a bunch of choruses: chorus, chorus, chorus!

Trends change, beats change, but people still want the same thing: music made with creativity and passion — not something recycled, but something new. When I make a new song, I’m not thinking about what’s playing or what people want. I do my thing, and I do it from the heart. [El Último Tour del Mundo] is completely different from YHLQMDLG. It’s a bit more rock’n’roll, a lot of guitars. This is a more sentimental album — the kind of thing you can listen to in your room. People told me I kept releasing perreo [party music] at a time when people couldn’t go out. And I said, “OK, now you can’t complain! This is an album for you to stay at home, have a beer or glass of wine and pay attention to the lyrics.”

Everything I do is in Spanish. Not because I’m not interested in recording in English — it’s just that I don’t feel it. Puerto Ricans have the flow, the style, the salsa, the spice of the Caribbean. Everything we say sounds excellent! Latin artists have reached the whole world singing in Spanish. I have always believed in my language and my music, and I believe we can go even bigger. In the past, even Latin fans underestimated Latin artists and felt American artists were better. I never believed that. I always thought we were on the same level, and little by little people have realized that’s the case. We’ve shown Latin music can go as far as any other.

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 19, 2020, issue of Billboard.